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French government cries victory after 'anti-Semitic' comic ban

French humorist Dieudonne M'bala M'bala (2ndR) waves to fans as he leaves the Zenith concert hall in Nantes
French humorist Dieudonne M'bala M'bala (2ndR) waves to fans as he leaves the Zenith concert hall in Nantes Reuters/Stéphane Mahe

The French government declared it had won a victory in its battle with controversial comedian Dieudonné M'Bala M'Bala's after the coutry's top court banned his one-man show in the western city of Nantes on Thursday. The Council of State delivered its judgement in record time after an appeal against an earlier ruling by Interior Minister Manuel Valls.

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Update

A court in Orleans upheld the ban on Dieudonné's appearance in Tours on Friday evening.

"The republic has won," Valls declared on Thursday evening. "We cannot tolerate hatred of the other, racism, anti-Semitism, negationism, that's not possible, that's not France."

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said the decision "vindicates the government's position" of trying to tackle "anti-Semitic tendencies".

The Council of State delivered its verdict in record time, overturning a local court's ruling that the show could go ahead just two hours before it was due to start.

A crowd of over 5,000 that had gathered outside the concert hall where it was due to take place reacted angrily but without violence.

France's main Jewish groups welcomed the decision but the Human Rights League criticised its implications for free speech.

Valls sent a circular calling on local officials to ban Dieudonné's shows on the grounds that they represented a danger to public order, the usual reason for banning demonstrations and other public events, while adding that the less usual argument they were an "offence againt respect for human dignity".

A court in Orleans was due to rule on whether Dieudonné's planned Friday performance in Tours could take place at midday, while one in Orleans itself has already been banned.

A poll published on Friday showed 71 per cent of respodents disapproving of the controversial comic.

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